Understanding Deployment Health Assessments
In order to perform at your peak, it’s important for service members to be physically and psychologically healthy. To maximize the health readiness of the U.S. military, the Defense Department implemented a multi-step health assessment process for personnel deploying around the world. This three step process enables service members to take control of their physical and psychological health by identifying any health challenges that may arise throughout the deployment cycle.
If you or a loved one will be deploying, this article may provide answers to some of your questions about the deployment health assessment process, including why it is important to provide honest feedback to your health care provider.
What is the purpose of the deployment health assessment program?
The deployment health assessment program was designed to maintain and improve the readiness, fitness and well-being of military personnel before, during and after deployment. The program can help health care providers screen, identify, evaluate, and refer you for treatment.1 By participating in the health assessment program, you have an opportunity to take control of your health by speaking with a provider and learning about the health care and community services that are available to you.
Who has to complete the health assessments?
If you are an active duty service member or a member of the National Guard or reserve, and will be deploying outside of the U.S. to locations without a fixed medical treatment facility for more than 30 days, you are required to complete health assessments pre- and post-deployment. Deployments of less than 30 days may still require you to complete a deployment health assessment program at the discretion of the combatant commander, service commander or commander exercising operational control.1
What are the components of the deployment health assessment program?
The program includes the pre-deployment health assessment, post-deployment health assessment (PDHA) and the post-deployment health reassessment (PDHRA). Figure 1 shows the entire deployment health assessment cycle and indicates when each assessment takes place in relation to deployment.
Incorporating psychological resilience skills into your everyday life can help you cope with stress experienced throughout the deployment cycle and reintegration process. Read the Real Warriors Campaign article, “Build Resilience to Maximize Mission Readiness,” for tips and resources on developing psychological resilience.
What should I expect from the health assessments?
- Pre-Deployment Health Assessment: As part of the pre-deployment health assessment, you will complete DD Form 2795 and meet with a health care professional to discuss your general health and any concerns you may have.3 During the assessment, your overall health will be evaluated to determine your ability to deploy.1 If you are able to deploy, the required immunizations will be administered during this stage and you will receive a 90-day supply of prescription medications, hearing aid/batteries and two pairs of eyeglasses, as needed. Your medical tags will also be furnished with essential medical information.
- Post-Deployment Health Assessment (PDHA): The PDHA assesses your general health, occupational and environmental exposures and psychological health after deployment. Following deployment, you will complete the PDHA and the results will be recorded in DD Form 2796. The PDHA is administered during in-theater medical out-processing or within 30 days of returning to home or processing station.4
- Post-Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA): The PDHRA is designed to address the health care needs and concerns that can occur following deployment, with an emphasis on psychological health.5 Since health concerns often emerge weeks or months after deployment rather than immediately at the end of deployment, the PDHRA is typically administered 90-180 days after you return home.5,6 You will be contacted by your unit leader and given information on how to access the electronic or web-enabled version of DD Form 2900.
Why do I need to complete all three assessments?
By completing all three assessments, a health professional can help you identify, track, evaluate and resolve any physical or psychological challenges or concerns you may be facing. Identifying health and readjustment concerns early can help you resolve challenges that could – if left unattended – negatively affect your deployment status, career or personal health.7
Army Maj. Gen. David Blackledge was physically and psychologically wounded by explosions during two different tours to Iraq. After returning home, he started to experience nightmares and instances of rage that seemed to come from nowhere. Maj. Gen. Blackledge sought care from a medical professional and was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder. Hear him tell his story of reaching out for care and support for psychological health concerns in the Real Warriors Campaign podcast, “Creating New Norms of Care.”
Why is it important that I provide honest feedback?
Each step in the deployment health assessment process requires self-reported data, including demographic and health information, and an interview with a health provider. It’s important that you’re honest with yourself and your health provider so that health concerns can be addressed early. Early intervention greatly assists successful treatment, and can benefit yourself, your family and your unit.
- Yourself: By discussing any health challenges openly with your provider, you will be able to identify and care for health concerns before they become heightened concerns. Minor aches and pains, anxiety or sleeplessness could be symptoms of a larger health concern. Health professionals at each stage of the deployment health assessment program can direct and refer you to health care and community support services. Identifying psychological health concerns and receiving care and support early can significantly improve positive outcome.
- Your family: Completion of the deployment health assessments can give your family peace of mind knowing that you have been screened for health concerns you may be experiencing. In addition, you and your family can receive assistance in identifying medical and support resources in your community to help you cope with each stage of deployment and strengthen your family resilience.
- Your unit: Your leaders, buddies and fellow warriors depend on you to be fully mission-ready. By completing the deployment health assessments, you will help maintain the physical and psychological fitness needed to serve at peak performance and accomplish your given mission.
For additional information about the deployment health assessment process or any of its components, visit PDHealth. PDHealth is a product of the Deployment Health Clinical Center and provides information on deployment health and health care for service members, veterans, their families and health care professionals.
- Comprehensive Airman Fitness (Air Force)
- Resilience Training (Army)
- Operational and Combat Stress Resources (Navy & Marine Corps)
- Post-Deployment Health Reassessment
1 “Deployment Health,” [PDF 229.47KB] Defense Department Instruction 6490.03. Published Aug. 11, 2006; Certified current Sept. 30, 2011.
2 “Post-Deployment Health Reassessment Program – PDHRA,” Human Resources Policy Directorate. U.S. Army. Last accessed Sept. 20, 2012.
3 “Why Do I Need All three Assessments,” [PDF 731KB] United States Air Force Medical Service. Last accessed Sept. 20, 2012.
4 “Enhanced Post-Deployment Health Assessment (PDHA) Process DD Form 2796),” Deployment Health Clinical Center. Last accessed Sept. 20, 2012.
5 “Post-Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA) Program (DD Form 2900),” Deployment Health Clinical Center. Last accessed Sept. 20, 2012.
6 “Post-Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA),” [PDF 149.19KB] Force Health Protection and Readiness Policy and Programs. Published January 9, 2006.
7 “FAQ for Service Members” The Post-Deployment Health Reassessment, Force Health Protection and Readiness Policy and Programs. Last accessed Sept. 20, 2012.